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Purity 101

Is God an Egomaniac?

 

Daily Reading: Exodus 33:18-34:9

     In college, my most challenging English professor was also the one that I enjoyed the most. Unlike other profs who graded on a curve, giving me "A"s just because my essays outshone those of the many other non-English-majors in the class, this prof marked my first essay a "B".
     "I know this is not your best work," he explained.
     How he knew I could do better, I'm not sure, but that class and the two other of his classes I subsequently signed up for ignited my passion not just for great writing but for great thinking as well. The literature we read inspired deep philosophical discussions that I enjoyed especially because he and I shared the same upside-down and backwards way of (abnormal) thinking.
     My professor seemed to notice this similarity. One day as I was leaving class after a particularly spirited debate, he handed out one of my all-time favorite compliments: "You know, Amy, if I would have had a little sister, I hope she'd have been a lot like you."
     Though he and I thought alike in many ways, there was one point on which we couldn't have thought or felt more differently. That difference of opinion which eventually grew to a point of contention was my faith (and his lack thereof) in God.
     From our verbal face-offs on the subject, I sensed that his disbelief went beyond a mere lack of faith to an outright bitterness or antagonism against the very idea of God. When I tried to dig down to the root of this bitterness, the only answer I could find was that my professor was enraged by the ego of a Being who was perfect, and repeatedly said so.
     At the time, I think I responded that if someone is perfect, they have the right to say so because it is true. I considered the situation similar to a spiritual campaign for the hearts of men. Just as you can't expect a politician to campaign without touting his accomplishments, background and record, I thought, you can't tie God's hands when it comes to stating the facts about why we should love and choose him as our God.
     But, to tell you the truth, my professor's point still rankled with me a little. Why did God have to seemingly "brag" so much on Himself? Didn't His works adequately express His greatness? Why make a point of stating the obvious?
     In particular, I noticed a passage in Exodus where Moses asks to see God's glory. God stuffs Moses into

 

a crack in the mountain, shielding him from the deadly brightness of God's face. As He passes in front of the crevice, God proclaims a two-verse description of Himself (Exodus 34:6-7). "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and fourth generation."
     I didn't debate that God's statement was true, but I just didn't understand the need for it. To be completely honest, in my deepest of hearts, I agreed with my professor that it seemed a bit egotistical.
     Recently, God showed me that I wasn't looking at His statement through the right lens. This week, I finally realized that God wasn't making His statement as a political speech, or for any personal gain of His own at all. His declaration of strength was solely for the benefit of the trembling, brand-new national leader that was hiding in a hole in a rock.
     A full knowledge of God's greatness and Being was just what Moses needed to strengthen him for the leadership tasks ahead. Moses already knew he didn't have what it took to lead a nation. He needed to know that God did. Later on, Moses will say to God, "I'll go ahead with this mission on the sole condition that You go with us. If You're not going, I'm not, either."
     Moses had no confidence in himself or his own abilities. But God told him, "Moses, that's ok. Let me tell you a little about the God you're serving. Whatever comes up, you'll see that I've already got it covered."
     That's not an example of crowing; it's an example of comforting.
     Just as Moses craved the reassurance that God was strong enough to anticipate his problems and have them all under control before they even occurred, we thirst for the power of God in our lives today. When we get overconfident, we need to realize that God's knowledge, power and integrity dwarfs all human strength. And when we get overwhelmed, we need to hide with Moses in the rocky crevice and feel the comfort of God's proclamation wash over us, giving us courage and hope for what lies ahead.
     No matter what your situation, know that God is powerful enough to take care of it for you. Today, draw courage from His comfortingly unexaggerated strength.

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